This chapter envisions a shift in critical attention to performative effects of social entrepreneurship. Following Judith Butler, it understands language – speaking about social entrepreneurship – and existence – being or becoming a social entrepreneur – as inextricably linked. In a Butlerian sense, social entrepreneurship is a regulatory ideal: a ritualistic, reiterative and citational practice by which discourse produces the effects that it names. By way of illustrating how performative practices in the social entrepreneurship field create emergent identities, the analysis engages with an ethnographic study of social business events as spaces in which a particular social entrepreneurial vision gains appeal as a realizable approach. Such performances constitute a mode of practice that simultaneously signifies and (bodily) enacts social entrepreneurial ideals, thus rendering obsolete the discourse/subject-distinction often assumed in scholarly criticism of social entrepreneurship.
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